Thursday wasn’t exactly a banner day for private red snapper anglers along the Gulf Coast - or for the five Gulf states fisheries managers hoping to wrest control of the snapper fishery away from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
An amendment proposed by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) that would have established a state-based management plan for Gulf of Mexico red snapper failed before the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 22-16.
That happened on Capitol Hill as NOAA released plans for a Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season for private anglers that's only 10 days long beginning June 1.
Randy Pausina, the head of fisheries for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, attended the committee meeting on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Pausina said he and the fisheries directors for Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida got together in New Orleans in February and created the plan outlined in Graves’ amendment, which was presented Thursday in hearings for the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which happens every five years.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters.
“It’s disheartening from my simple perspective to continually see the five state directors lose their vote at the Council, and be outvoted consistently at the Council, and then come over here…,” Pausina said. “But this is the first committee hearing. I know there are all sorts of things that will happen as this thing moves up to the next level and goes through the process.
“There’s a long road to go.”
He said he and the other state directors created the management framework based on what they thought would be doable and productive for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.
“This doesn’t mean the five-state management plan bill can’t stand alone, or do some other things. It’s got to get joined at some point with the Senate side,” he said. “We did our part. All we can do now is hope somebody’s listening.”
Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act ultimately passed the committee by a vote of 21-14.